The 5 Best 3D Printers for Beginners in 2021

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The Rundown
The price point makes this an affordable option, but the performance and quality are not representative of a cheap printer.
It looks cool in your office or game room, and it’s easy to set up and use with the included software.
You can print free hand, and there’s almost no setup involved—just insert some filament into the pen, then start creating shapes.
Best for Tinkerers:
Monoprice Select Mini 2 at Amazon
The Monoprice Select Mini 2 is a solid mid-range printer for beginners who like to tinker.
Most Versatile:
FlashForge Finder at Amazon
The 3D printer also has a lot of intelligent features, including an assisted leveling system.

Some people think you have to spend $1,000 to get into the 3D printing hobby, but the price of 3D printers has declined dramatically over the last few years, making the hobby more accessible to beginners who might not want to spend too much on a new interest.

Whether you’re a maker, artist, or a hobby board gamer making terrain for Warhammer, the best 3D printers for beginners are easy to use, easy to build, and don’t require knowledge of modeling software. In addition to art and hobby board gaming, 3D printers are handy for a number of applications like architecture model design, dental appliances, jewelry, or toys.

Check out our top picks of the best 3D printers for beginners in different categories and price ranges. For a bigger list of 3D printers, take a look at our list of the best 3D printers overall.

Best Overall: Comgrow Official Creality Ender 3 V2 3D Printer

What We Like
  • Excellent price

  • Good print bed

  • Simple operation

What We Don't Like
  • Not easy to change filament mid-print

  • Leveling is challenging

The Official Creality Ender 3 V2 is our choice for the best beginner 3D printer by a landslide. The price point makes this an affordable option to get started in the 3D printing hobby, coming in at less than $300, but the performance and quality are not representative of a cheap printer. 

This printer can handle PLA and ABS, and it can also handle flexible filaments but may require some alterations. The carborundum glass platform ensures the print bed has even heat, and it heats very quickly, assuring each layer—especially your first layer—sticks to the bed without requiring any adhesives. It has a solid print bed size, allowing a maximum build volume of 8.7 x 8.7 x 9.8 inches. 

The 4.3-inch color screen is not a touchscreen, but it’s easy to navigate and makes changing the settings simple. In the event of a power loss, there is a resume printing function to pick back up at the last layer. Well-thought-out additions, like knobs for tension belts and the extruder, make adding new filament and adjustments easy, while the included tool drawers keep everything you need in a handy place.

It is a bit difficult to change out your filament mid-print, and things print better if you upgrade the extruder, but this is not absolutely necessary. Leveling of the print bed can be a bit tough to get right, but you should get a good amount of prints done between leveling. Overall, this printer is the perfect choice to get you started on this fun and creative hobby.

Type: Filament (PLA, ABS, TPU, PETG) | Features: Resume printing function, silent motherboard, extruder rotary knob, carborundum glass platform | Connectivity: None | LCD Screen: 4.3-inch color LCD screen

From terrain to figurines, I’ve been able to make so much with this printer and I’ve never had to use adhesive on the print bed.” — Erika Rawes, Product Tester

Best Value: AnyCubic Photon UV LCD 3D Printer

What We Like
  • Good, smooth print quality

  • Affordable

  • Included software

What We Don't Like
  • Small build volume

As the only resin printer on our list, the AnyCubic Photon Mono UV 3D printer comes with an industrial CNC metal design with a satin finish. It looks cool in your office or game room, and it’s easy to set up and use with the included software. There are only four settings you need to adjust out of the box, unlike most other 3D printers, which often require full assembly and lots of settings tweaks. 

Despite the fewer settings, you're not making any big sacrifices. The resolution is reasonably high, with good accuracy and smooth detail with XY at 47 microns and Z layer height down to ten microns. In other words, this provides a smoother finish than a low-end filament printer would. The interface is interactive, letting you preview the monitor and print status in real-time. The included software is also a nice way to design and learn your way around the printer. 

Because this is a resin printer that prints using liquid resin, it behaves differently than a filament printer. Filament printers print plastic that cools quickly, and they don’t need a cover. Resin printers cure using UV light, so they require a cover to block ineffective light from messing up the prints. With a resin printer, you’ll also need an area where you can wash and cure your prints, and this is added upkeep too. Sure, a resin printer puts out a smoother end product, but it’s a different process than using a filament printer. These are all factors to keep in mind.

Type: Resin | Features: Included slicer software, UV blocking cover, Easy FEB replacement, fast print speed | Connectivity: None | LCD Screen: 6-inch 2K monochrome LCD

Best Budget: MYNT3D Super 3D Pen

What We Like
  • Slider speed control

  • Manual and continuous feed modes

  • Does not clog easily

What We Don't Like
  • Limited in what it can print

If you're working with a shoestring budget, the MYNT3D Super 3D Pen is worth considering. While it's admittedly not a traditional 3D printer, it still works like a filament printer, and it may be your only real option in the sub-$50 range. The pen is exactly as it sounds; it emits instantly-cooled filament, so you can “draw” a shape in 3D. The biggest issue with opting for a 3D pen over a printer is accuracy, as you won’t get the precision you’d get with an actual 3D printer.

On the other hand, the good news for beginners is that the Super 3D allows you to quickly and easily create 3D shapes without needing to first design them on a computer. You can print freehand, and there’s also almost no setup involved—just insert some filament into the pen, then start creating shapes. All you have to do is turn on the pen, wait for the indicator light to turn red, adjust the speed slider, then press the feed button to print. The pen is handheld and easy to transport, so you can bring it with you to craft on the go.

Type: 3D Pen (PLA, ABS) | Features: Readiness indicator light, speed slider, ultrasonic sealed nozzle | Connectivity: None | LCD Screen: None

Best for Tinkerers: Monoprice Select Mini 2

What We Like
  • Compact design

  • Fully assembled

  • Metal nozzle

What We Don't Like
  • Not a glass print bed

The Monoprice Select Mini 2 is a solid mid-range printer for beginners who like to tinker. The 3D printer is slightly advanced compared to some of the others on our list, as it offers built-in software and can work with your slicer of choice. That means if you're already familiar with a popular program like Cura or Repetier, for example, you're good to go.

There are other things to like about the Monoprice Select Mini 2. It ships fully assembled, so you won't have to cobble it together, it has a MicroSDTM card with preinstalled models, it can work with a wide array of filaments, it prints at 55mm/second, and it has a 3.7-inch IPS screen for easy navigation.

On the downside, the Monoprice Select Mini 2 has a relatively small build scope given its open design (4.7 x 4.7 x 4.7 inches) and it has no protective enclosure—you’ll need to be extra careful around the heated build plate so you don’t burn yourself.

Type: Filament (PLA, ABS, TPU, PETG) | Features: Wi-Fi connectivity, fully assembled, heated build plate, small-footprint design | Connectivity: Wi-Fi | LCD Screen: 3.7-inch IPS color screen

Most Versatile: FlashForge Finder

What We Like
  • Assisted leveling system

  • Wi-Fi enabled

  • Easy print removal

What We Don't Like
  • PLA only

  • Small build volume

If you're shopping for a 3D printer that works with any system and via any connectivity mode, the FlashForge Finder is compatible with Windows, Mac, and Linux computers. It can also connect through a USB cable, over Wi-Fi, or even using a USB drive. The 3D printer also has a lot of intelligent features, including an assisted leveling system which, via instructions on the printer's 3.5-inch color touchscreen, can help you calibrate your build plate for precise printing. This is important because leveling can be incredibly difficult.

Speaking of the build plate, the FlashForge Finder's is non-heated and slides in and out of the machine, which makes removing your completed print super easy. The printer also supports 3D Cloud function, which enables you to store your models online and check your printing status.

If you're using the Finder at home, you'll appreciate how quiet it is. Operating at 50 decibels and under (about the same as your refrigerator), it's suitable for late-night use—even if you have little ones sleeping.

When it comes to filament, the machine prints PLA only, but the Finder does come with a free spool and you can buy refills from other brands. PLA is the most popular type of filament though, and many people get by using only PLA.

Type: Filament (PLA only) | Features: Quiet printing, Wi-Fi, slide in build plate, assisted leveling system, Cloud functionality | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Cloud functionality | LCD Screen: 3.5-inch color LCD touchscreen

Final Verdict

The best 3D printer for beginners is the Official Creality Ender 3 V2 (view at Amazon). It’s easy to use, it takes a variety of filaments, and it has a good-sized print bed that adheres to the material the way it’s supposed to. The MYNT3D Super 3D Pen (view at Amazon) is a super affordable option for those who just want the basics of design without any added frills.

About Our Trusted Experts

Erika Rawes has been writing professionally for more than a decade, and she’s spent the last five years writing about consumer technology. Erika has reviewed roughly 150 gadgets, including computers, peripherals, A/V equipment, mobile devices, and smart home gadgets. Erika currently writes for Digital Trends and Lifewire.

FAQs

Are 3D printers easy to use?

Like any new hobby, 3D printing takes a bit of time to learn, but the basics can be easily understood through a wealth of online tutorials and content. Expect to spend about a day or two learning about 3D printing and getting set up before getting your first print started. You also do not need to learn how to design in 3D, as there are tons of sites that provide free designs. Once you learn the basics, you will be easily printing and can learn more as you go.

How much is a decent 3D printer?

A good entry-level home 3D printer should cost around $300 to $400. In this price range, you will get a quality printer with some good features and will be able to print some fun items. Once you decide if you like the hobby or not, you can choose whether you want to spend more on a printer with a bigger print bed and more advanced features. We suggest you start off with a basic printer though, as a small printer can definitely help you gauge your level of interest in the hobby.

Is a 3D printer a good investment?

Yes, 3D printing can actually be a good way to save money, and you can wind up with some very cool and unusual items. You can 3D print everything from tools to shelving to toys for your kids. You can even print large items on an entry-level printer if you are comfortable with connecting the pieces together.

What to Look For in a 3D Printer For Beginners

Print Bed Size

You want a large enough bed to be able to print the size of items you will want. Smaller print beds may require using software to split the model and glue together, which can be a challenge. 

Heated Print Bed

This is vitally important to ensuring your first layer sticks to the bed properly, otherwise you will create a birds nest of plastic. A glass bed can help with adhesion. Other bed types can definitely work, but may require an adhesive to optimally perform.

Type of Material

Do you want to use resin or filament? Filament tends to be a bit easier to use. Resin prints smoother, but will require curing and cleaning. If you are choosing filament, make sure your printer can use the type of filament you want to print with, as some printers can use only a certain type of filament and can therefore limit your options.

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